The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi was neither an accident nor unavoidable, US President Barack Obama said in a statement on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
He said the Genocide was a deliberate and systematic effort by human beings to destroy other human beings.
“The horrific events of those 100 days—when friend turned against friend, and neighbour against neighbour—compel us to resist our worst instincts, just as the courage of those who risked their lives to save others reminds us of our obligations to our fellow man,” Obama said.
“We join Rwandans to mark 20 years since the beginning of the Genocide that claimed many innocent lives and shook the conscience of the world.”
He said the US honours victims of the 1994 Genocide who were slaughtered simply because of who they were or what they believed in, the families, who have summoned the courage to carry on, and the survivors, who have worked hard to rebuild their lives.
He saluted the determination of Rwandans for the important progress toward healing old wounds, transforming people’s lives and sparing others the pain they have known by contributing to peacekeeping missions around the world.
“In the face of hatred, we must remember the humanity we share. In the face of cruelty, we must choose compassion. In the face of intolerance and suffering, we must never be indifferent. Embracing this spirit, as nations and as individuals, is how we can honour all those who died in the Genocide and build a future worthy of their lives.”
At the main anniversary event in Kigali, the US delegation was led by Amb. Samantha Power, US Representative to the United Nations.
Amb. Power said in a statement: “Deeply conscious of the cost of mass violence, Rwanda has also been a prominent and effective contributor to international peacekeeping operations, including the African Union mission now underway in the Central African Republic.”
Power affirmed the US government’s commitment to supporting “Rwanda and all the countries in the Great Lakes region as they endeavour, with UN assistance, to end the threat posed by irregular armed groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) led by those who perpetrated the 1994 Genocide.”
As individuals and nations, she said: “We lack the power to rewind history, restore life to the hundreds of thousands of people who were so ruthlessly killed, but have the power to prevent future genocides.”